Driving Central America & South America.

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Exchanging money?

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asteele's picture
Joined: Nov 13 2006

I'm planning a 2 month trip to Panama next fall. I've done alot of reading but am curious about how you go about exchanging money. Do you exchange currency at every border? Can you change US Dollars for the local currency in every country? Do you use a Debit card to obtain local money?

robertdjung's picture
Joined: Oct 31 2006

Yes, yes, and yes.

There are guys at the border that will change your money. They roam around and they will find you. Border changers won't always give you the best rate, so don't change too much there.

Everyone, everywhere takes dollars. You can pay with the dollar in some places (ask, and expect a bad rate since it's a hassle).

You can also use your ATM card to get local money. There is some issue about that, though... let me recall... I think the issue is that you'd rather have a VISA ATM card, not a mastercard, because VISA is more prevalent. But they both work, just might take a little more hassle to find the place that will take your mastercard.

Also, in some places it's harder than others to get rid of another country's currency. So try to not wind up with too much "extra" cash, and change it at the border for the new country's.

Hope that helps! Let us know some more about your trip plans and ideas when you have the time.